Red Dead Redemption 2 is finally here after 8 years of waiting since the original Red Dead Redemption. It has been among the most anticipated games of 2018 and there is no point to delay our enjoyment further. So without any further ado; let’s get on to the Red Dead Redemption 2 review!
*Mild Spoilers Alert*
Red Dead Redemption 2 is the prequel to the 2010 Red Dead Redemption and also sequel to the first 2004 Red Dead Revolver. It takes place in 1899 as the Wild West era is coming to an end. “Unfortunately,” players will not take the role of the famous John Marston from Red Dead Redemption 1 but rather, a brand new character named Arthur Morgan. He is a senior member of the Van der Linde gang; in fact, he is the second-in-command after only Dutch Van der Linde himself. The story begins after a failed heist in the town of Blackwater. And so, the entire gang is chased by the authorities and the bounty hunters. But not only that, as the world is changing, so too the members. Conflicts brewing within the gang, the needs of survivability, the differences between ideologies, all push the gang into its darkest time and Arthur has to figure what is the best for him and the gang.
Gameplay-wise, the game features a huge open-world with tons of things to do aside from the main quests like hunting, fishing, playing poker, doing side stories, and more… Probably the most impressive thing about Red Dead Redemption 2 is how detail it is. Throughout a number of trailers and showcase videos, the game is already famous for its realistic design, even including… horse’s testicles? In any case, the game has already been out on October 26, 2018 for PS4 and Xbox One; however, there is still no new information regarding the PC version.
Back in 2013, Rockstar has showed how incredible they are with open-world building. And once again, Rockstar has done it again, and this time, it is even better, grander, and much, much more breathtaking. As you can already watch from bunch of trailers and videos, you can see that Red Dead Redemption 2’s graphic and its open world look extremely stunning. It is a fantastic recreation of the Wild West, featuring 5 different big regions: New Hanover, Ambarino, Lemoyne, West Elizabeth, and New Austin. Each comes with different environments varied from snowy mountain to valley.
Weather is also a big element in Red Dead Redemption 2’s visual. It can make the environment both gorgeous and terrifying depending on different contexts. Day and night cycle do make this open world look different and beautiful, while certain natural phenomena like storm can drastically change the area like storm or snowstorm.
With all that said, the best thing about Red Dead Redemption 2’s open world is how lively it is. Everything feels alive and convincing: wild animals running around living like in a real ecosystem, people doing their job and interacting with each other, including Arthur. It is arguably the best presentation of the Wild West and it does make us want to explore this open-world and see everything it offers.
As mentioned, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the 2010 Red Dead Redemption. It takes place in 1899 when the Wild West era is coming to an end, which also means the cowboy lifestyle is going to be unfit in this ever-changing world. This also dramatically affects the main protagonist Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linge as they’re struggling to survive in this changing era, especially when they being hunted by the authorities and bounty hunters. This pushes the whole gang, including Dutch Van der Linde, on edge, forcing Arthur to start choosing what’s the best for himself and the gang.
Frankly speaking, the premise of Red Dead Redemption 2 may not by that unique compared to many other Wild West stories. However, it works quite fine in this game and more importantly; it creates the context for characters to shine. Characters are the true stars of the game. Almost all members of the gang (23 members in total, including Jack Marston and his wife Abigail Roberts) are memorable; each has their own stories and personalities. As Arthur spends time with each member, players get to know about the character. Some can be friendly and nice, while certain other members can be a huge bastard. Nonetheless, it creates a delightful diversity for the gang.
And in case you are wondering, no you don’t need to play Red Dead Redemption 1 to understand Red Dead Redemption 2 since… it is a prequel after all. But for those who have already played the first game, you already know what will happen to Dutch and John Marston. However, this story should still be interesting since you’re playing from a new perspective as Arthur Morgan. And more importantly, you get to see how Dutch becomes a “monster” as he admitted in the first game and what actually happens to all the members of the gang. In short, if Red Dead Redemption is a personal story of John Marston, a former outlaw; Red Dead Redemption 2 is a story of the Van der Linde gang and more specifically, Dutch’s right-hand man Arthur Morgan.
Now this is a huge deal in Red Dead Redemption 2. Again, Rockstar has proved themselves to be a master in creating a huge open-world with fascinating stuffs to do. There are lots of things for players to take in, so many interesting details to look at. But before that, let’s check out the gunplay which is the meat of the game.
To survive in the Wild West, clearly what you need is a proper gun, a good one at that. But unlike GTA 5 in which players can equip bunch of weapons and pull them out of nowhere, Arthur can only carry a pairs of rifles and a pair of handguns. Luckily, every singly gun in this game feels great and surprisingly realistic. Every time you fire a gun, you can see smoke coming out, plus the incredible sounds when firing a gun or loading. And here’s the additional “realistic” element about guns: When you use them to certain point, their durability will drop and you will have to maintain them. Guns without maintenance will become much weaker than normal like dealing lower damage, slower reloading, and reduced accuracy.
To clean your guns, simply head to the Gunsmiths in urban areas and you will get to buy, maintain, as well as customize your gun. By the way, gun customization is also on point here. Players can purchase and apply different customizations for a gun like scope, grip, and barrel. Furthermore, players can also customize the gun’s appearance including the colors for each part of the gun, giving it engravings, or carvings. There are about 59 weapons in total which can be unlocked and bought from Gunsmiths. In addition, players can also find Rare versions of those weapons, or even, the Unique weapons by doing the story, side missions, treasure hunts, etc…
As for Arthur himself, he also gets the Dead Eye ability (represented by the Eye-icon core) which basically slows time while allows Arthur to aim and shoot in normal speed. As this ability levels up, it will also unlock new powers like marking the spots which Arthur will rapidly shoot at, and even highlighting the enemy’s weak points. This ability is really cool and extremely useful in any battle and even hunting animals. Also one thing to note: since you will use Dead Eye ability a lot, it is recommended to bring along tobaccos and cigarettes in order to recharge the ability.
Aside from guns, there are also many other stuffs which players can unlock and customize for Arthur.
The very first thing players need to pay attention to is horse. Horses play an important role in Red Dead Redemption 2 since it is Arthur’s main travelling method. Interesting enough, players can spend time taking care of the horse like petting, feeding, and cleaning it. This will increase Arthur’s bond with the horse and thus, unlock certain horse-riding abilities. That being said, it is suggested not to spend too much care on your horse around the early game since you will find lots of horses later on. Specifically, you can send your horse to a Stable and buy other horse breeds. And of course, different horse breed also has different stats and naturally, you will want to increase your bonding with the strong one. There is also one thing which piques our interest is that: in Red Dead Redemption 1, there are 4 unique horses which named after the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. So we’re wondering if Rockstar will bring them back in this game.
Next, we have outfits for Arthur. As Arthur travels throughout the world, he will be able to unlock new clothes. These outfits mostly serve as cosmetic items and each item from the sets can also be wore and mixed. And here’s the interesting detail: different outfits are suitable for certain weather climate. For example, Brawler Outfit is suitable in Average or Hot Weather, but it will be a pain if travelling in Cold Weather as Arthur’s Stamina will be greatly reduced. Therefore, he will need to at least wear an additional coat for cold areas.
And finally, there are a variety of consumables to help with Arthur’s stats. If you look at the bottom left of the screen, you will see 5 cores appearing on top of the radar. These 5 cores represent 5 stats: Health, Stamina, Dead Eye, Horse’s Health, and Horse’s Stamina. To simply put, cores represent Arthur’s physical conditions like being full or hungry, while the rings wrapping each core represent the standard Health Point and Stamina Point. The cores will gradually reduce regardless of what Arthur’s doing, and it will reduce faster or slower depending on different situations.
And this is when the consumables come in. The first one is Provision, which is basically food and it can be cooked in the camp. Consuming food will refill those cores. However, Arthur can even be either… underweight or overweight if eating too less or too much food. Underweight will increase Arthur’s Stamina but at the same time he cannot take so much damage. On the other hand, overweight will allow Arthur to endure more hits, yet takes toll on his Stamina. So unless you prefer 2 different “underweight” or “overweight playstyle”, it’s best to keep Arthur fit.
The second consumable type is Tonic, which used to refills the Rings. Then there is a special Fortify Tonic type (indicated by the yellow icon) which can refill the Rings and those Rings will not be depleted for a short period of time, depending on the quality of the used Tonic.
Side activities… with extreme realism!
Here we come to the one of the most exciting (and probably most tiring too) aspect of Red Dead Redemption 2: There are so much side activities to do with extremely high level of realism.
As players finish Chapter 1, the Van der Linde gang will set up their camp temporary, allowing Arthur to start free-roaming throughout this Wild West open-world. From here, players can enjoy their adventure throughout this beautiful land Rockstar has created with tons of details. There are lots of things for players to do and take care of like hunting, doing stuffs at the gang’s camp, caring your horses, hunting for treasures, playing poker, and more…
Each of these activities is so detail, for example, hunting will require several steps similar to real life namely: understanding the animal and its weak spots, tracking, taking down the target, and bringing its skin and corpse to the interested people. Players will have to go through most of these steps manually, there is even a detail animation of Arthur using his knife and skin the animal, and put it onto his pocket. Arthur can also pick up the animal’s remain and put it on his horse. Skin can be sent to Trapper so that he can craft some good leather items for Arthur; while the remains can be sent to the camp for food or sold them to the merchants.
Players can also spend their time at camp, and by the way, players can easily spend even hours just onto the camp alone due to the vast of things to do. Players can hang out, talk, do some jobs with gang members, or upgrading various stuffs for the camp like tonic supply, provisions, ammunition & guns, and more…
And if you prefer travelling more, there are also lots of unexpected events which you can encounter across your journey. You may see a person gets bitten by a snake, or a merchant who gets raided by different gang. If Arthur chooses to help them, he will gain more Honor (a moral system in this game) and interesting enough, the people who Arthur helped will actually remember him and they do look incredibly happy to see Arthur again. Merchants who got help will also recognize Arthur and even have gifts for him and favorable deals with merchandise.
As mentioned, Red Dead Redemption 2 also has an extreme level of details aside from the major elements we mentioned above. For example, there is a cleanliness element in which Arthur can get dirty and people will have a rather… unwelcoming attitude towards, therefore, it is best to keep him clean by bathing at the river or paying some cash for high-quality bathing. Another example is fast travel which is “unfortunately” not like the standard fast-travel system in other games. In the early game, Arthur has to travel with his horse and the only way to fast travel is to pay for train ticket. Arthur can also unlock fast travel from his camp; however, it is one-way fast-travel only.
There are even miniscule details like eating, which requires Arthur to cook first then eat manually. Then there is another detail in which Arthur can carve bullets at camp so that it can deal better damage, and as you can guess, Arthur will have to carve each bullet, one by one.
So as you can see, there is so much attention to detail in terms of realism (even the horse’s testicle being smaller in cold area. Yes, it’s real!). It can be great for immersion, yet a bothersome for certain players. You see: this realism makes Red Dead Redemption 2 a much slower pace. The game is like supposedly to be taken slow so that players can enjoy every bit of it. For those who do not like such slow pace, the game can be considered to be extremely dragging. But if you are fine with such design, Red Dead Redemption 2 indeed has such a high production value.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a beautiful prequel with beautiful storyline and fascinating characters, and also extremely detail, too detail to a point that it can be a nuisance for some players. It features tons of realistic details (or “too realistic for its own good” according to certain reviews) and such realism causes the game flow to be much slower. If you are a fan of such high-realistic detail in gaming, Red Dead Redemption 2 is going to be the highest 10/10! But even if you don’t really like that realistic design, this game is still a 9/10 since it has so much things to offer as a fantastic open-world singleplayer game.
And that’s it folks! What do you think about Red Dead Redemption 2? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!
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